Nick Stefanelli ’23

Generation Conscious, Brooklyn, NY

Generation Conscious (GenCo) is a New York-based startup committed to tackling climate injustice, eliminating plastic waste and addressing eco-classism through rethinking the ways we buy and consume common household products. The company specializes in the design and retail of sustainably sourced hygiene products. One of the unique things about Generation Conscious is its emphasis on establishing ways to equitably circulate environmentally friendly products and introduce new zero-waste infrastructure for distribution. One of the main initiatives that the company is working on right now is implementing plastic-free detergent refill stations on college campuses across the country. I first became involved with Generation Conscious when Greg Genco (co-founder and CEO) began building his team of students at Williams. At Williams the goals of this program were threefold: reduce hygiene insecurity on campus, provide low-income students with new opportunities to engage in professional development and make progress toward meeting the college’s sustainability goals. I was surprised with how quickly the initiative picked up steam at Williams. Not only was it fun to be a part of a team that was creating meaningful change on my campus, but I also began to see the initiative’s potential to create wide-scale and sustained change by radically rejecting the systems and structures that perpetuate racial and economic injustice; carbon, plastic, water-waste and pollution—replacing these infrastructures and their consequences with systems and structures that generate true sustainability, equity and accessibility.

Nick Stefanelli in a virtual meeting.Following the success of the pilot program at Williams, I began assisting Greg in establishing the initiative at several schools in California, and it was at this point I decided I wanted to spend my summer working for GenCo.

One of the main reasons I was so excited to work at Generation Conscious is that the company is a unique combination of startup business and environmental justice—two areas that I am passionate about and consider to be potential career routes. This internship presented an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to build a startup, specifically one that faces the unique challenges that accompany being a sustainability-minded company.

For the first half of the internship, my primary role was identifying and pursuing new sources of funding. This involved researching different venture-capital firms, specifically those focused on sustainable and green investments. I found this work to be especially interesting because as I learned more about this sector of the industry, I began to consider working for one of these firms as a potential career route. During the second half of the internship, I worked primarily as a salesperson who helped to expand the initiative to other college campuses. I also assisted in the development of proposals to implement the refill stations in public housing buildings and homeless shelters.

I want to thank the ’68 Center and Mr. and Mrs. Case for providing the opportunity for me to spend this summer working for Generation Conscious. It was truly a valuable and rewarding experience that would not have been possible without their help.